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Haack: The King Of Techno
USA 2004
Directed by Phil Anagnos
Running time 63 minutes
Rated G
2.5 stars


The title of this documentary is 50% right. It is about Bruce Haack. To call him "King" however, is misleading, for he was more like Quirky Pioneer or Goofball Grand-Daddy than regal overlord. Made by first-time filmmaker Phil Anagnos, the film is suitably whimsical and works well with the limited material it has, using old TV footage, collage, drawings and animation to tell its story which sometimes is so whimsical that one wonders if the whole thing is not a clever piece of leg-pulling. Bruce Haack, seemingly a kind of Charles Bukowski of kiddieland, who was born on May 4, 1931 and grew up in the small mining town of Rocky Mountain House in Alberta, Canada. He was a self-taught pianist who briefly attended New York City's Julliard School before becoming interested in electronic music and with a friend, Esther Nelson forming a record company, Dimension 5, that released several children's albums during the 1960s that featured Haack's homemade synthesizers and modulators, as well as more conventional instruments like banjo and piano. Although Anagnos neither justifies his film's title nor provides much in the way of insight into Haack, it is an enjoyable little morsel about a truly offbeat character (and one should also include here his friend, business agent, and musical collaborator Chris Kachulis) who it seems never really had his day in the sun. If you liked Terry Zwigoff's Crumb, you'll find this intriguing, albeit not entirely fulfilling. BH

DVD Extras: The extras include longer versions of Haack's TV appearance seen in the film, a particularly low-quality tape of the movie's premiere at the Slamdance Festival at Park City, Utah with Anagnos fielding questions from the audience, and two radio interviews, one with Anagnos, and the other with Haack from the early 1970s.

Available from: Force Entertainment

 

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